Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mission = Prayer

Laura Hulsey's message at our 9:00 Traditions service on July 8, with a focus on 1 Timothy 2:1-8. (Check with Jim for audio cassette of her message; no digital audio available.)

       Today’s infomercials continually market multiple things that can change our lives.  Makeup, to make us more beautiful.  Exercise equipment that can give us an incredible body.  Pills, food, clothing, product after product which will change our lives for the better and it only will cost us $19.95 plus shipping and handling costs and if we call right now we will get the deal of the year, a second one free, of course shipping and handing costs will apply.  It is hard not to get sucked into the hype or just out of curiosity wonder, what in the world can that thing do.  Infomercials are mega marketing, with a shot of caffeine.  Sometimes we probably wonder who buys this stuff.  And every now and then one of the products may come our way and we are pleasantly surprised that it does actually do what it is suppose to do. 

Several Christmases ago I was given Invisible Glass as a gift.  Now I love to wash windows and I am pretty picky about what I use to wash them.  I actually mix up my own recipe of clear ammonia, vinegar and water.  So when I saw this bottle of “only sold on TV stuff, no streaks, etc.” I thought well we’ll see.  Surprisingly, the stuff really worked.  No steaks on windows or mirrors.        

            Well the folks that market Invisible Glass just loved me, because I did just what they wanted me to do.  I told everyone about it and I bought it for others.  I helped continue this lovely chain reaction to sell some window cleaner.  The marketing mission equals a product sold.

Over the summer months  I usually set out on the mission of reorganizing all those areas in my house where I have been dumping everything during the school year that I just didn’t have the time to find space for or simply had no space for.  My mission sounds easy.  Sort through the stacks, pack it away and clean. The equipment I am going to need is a trash can, to get rid of anything that I really don’t need. Maybe a plastic container or two, because I am a pack rat, and the adorable story that JoJo wrote about me this year, among  the other treasures I may find is not going into that trash can. While I’m at it I might as well scrub or dust the closet, so a bucket or vacuum cleaner might come in handy.  My guides for this mission were probably my parents.  Mom, because living with four children she knew how to put a lot of stuff into small spaces and my Dad because he really knew how box up those treasures.  When I am finished I can breath a sigh of relief, all of that stuff is reorganized and put away… for another year.  Mission accomplished.

Several weeks ago JP shared the two directions for discipleship.  The first being the interior or being with Jesus and the second was the exterior or the doing as being one sent.  He gave us each a penny to help us remember those two directions.  Last week he talked about the two conversations in Mark 3, calling us to share the salvation story and the mission.

            The life of a disciple is “one sent on a mission”.  Webster defines the word mission as a sending out or being sent out to perform a special service.  Well if we are being sent on a mission we probably feel like we need to have instructions and probably equipment.  Depending on the mission we might even want a guide that can show us the ropes.

            As a disciple of Jesus that mission is the very mission that Bethany church has committed its ministry, to honor God by making more disciples for Jesus Christ.  Straight from the scriptures in Matthew 28.  For some of today’s churches that mission of making more disciples often becomes a project to enlist new programs and activities within the church to “bring the people in”.  Yes, sometimes that does work and although there are many facets to the ministry of making disciples we may be trying so hard to be a mega church that we are missing out on how simple the task actually is.

            Our guide, Jesus, was a pro at making those disciples.  He used such simple activities to make an impact on the lives around Him.  He told stories, he was an example of gentleness and caring, he wasn’t afraid to get on His knees and wash feet in a humble act of servitude.  Jesus knew that the only way that He was going to make an impact on this world was to have continual communication with God. 

Jesus prayed.  He prayed all the time.  He prayed by himself.  He prayed with others.  He taught others about prayer.  He told us basically to keep it simple, be thankful, to ask for what we need, not what we want.  To ask for forgiveness, and to forgive others.  He even knew some of his prayers would not be answered as he cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus also spent time in prayer for others. 

In Matthew chapter 19:13  we read, “ Then the little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.”  John writes Jesus’ words in John chapter 17:6-9 “ I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.  They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them.  I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”

John continues in his writing in verses 20 & 21.  Jesus says, “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

A life lived by example.  Our guide, Jesus has given us a precious and simple gift we can give to others, prayer.

Recently a friend of mine found herself in a situation where a person she was with became suddenly very ill and in a great deal of pain.  As the individual became more and more distraught, my friend knew that she could call on God to bring relief to this person.  She began to lift them up in prayer and as she began to pray she could see this immediate wave of relief pour over the person she was with.  For any person who has not experienced the power of prayer it could change their life in the moment and for a lifetime.

Often we find ourselves praying for those in great need, due to illness or life’s situations.  Sometimes it is easier to pray for those in need because we have a focus and a desire to bring that person relief or guidance, because we know that God can. 

What would happen if we also spent time in prayer for those that are well and seemingly have lives that are together?  What if as we passed people in our cars, in the aisle at the grocery store, or the people living in the houses just outside the doors of this church we were lifting them up in prayer?  Not because we know of a need they may have, but because we can, because we should, because Jesus wants us to as part of the mission of making disciples.
Wouldn’t it be a powerful testimony if we met some of those strangers and we could say to them, this church, this body of Christ has been praying for you.  They may ask, why, and we can answer that it is part of the mission that we have been called to complete. 

When the disciple Paul wrote his letters to the churches he would often state in his greeting that he was praying for them.  In the first chapter of Philippians verse 9 he writes “And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”  Yes, Paul was offering this prayer to those who already believed, but aren’t those the same things we want to offer to the world through Jesus.

            The marketing world’s mission is to get us to purchase their product for a certain price. Prayer does have it’s costs too, our time and our effort. Everyday we each have our own set of missions that we embark on, do my job, take care of my family, reorganize my life.    We have been taught by the best and Jesus continues to encourage us to use that which is simple and available to all of us, to help to bring the mission of being one sent to make disciples for Him… prayer. 


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